The Elder Scrolls Online has been in development since 2007, back when World of Warcraft was still approaching the peak of its power and the freemium business model hadn't caught on. Because of this, Gamesbrief founder Nicholas Lovell thinks it likely that the game will launch with the subscription model.
"I still believe that subscription games are on the way out," said the founder of the videogame business consultancy to Edge. "It is conceivable that Bethesda will launch with a subscription service to attract the early adopters, because that is the model they understand."
However, subscription-only games are clearly going out of fashion for the MMO business. While there are a few hangers on, such as World of Warcraft, Rift and Star Wars: The Old Republic, many more games, like Age of Conan, Champions Online, City of Heroes, Lord of the Rings Online, Star Trek Online, DC Universe Online and more, have successfully made the transition to free-to-play, and Lovell thinks that transition is inevitable for The Elder Scrolls Online.
"They will switch to free-to-play later, in the same way that many iOS games go from paid to freemium over their lifetime," he said. "EA is struggling with The Old Republic, [but] almost everyone else is transitioning to free-to-play."
The Elder Scrolls Online is currently set to launch in 2013.